Daily Archives: June 5, 2013

Wednesday Write-In #42

This week’s words, via CAKE.shortandsweet, were:

scrape  ::  cuddly  ::  reduction  ::  octopus  ::  plain

‘He wasn’t as cuddly with me as normal, do you know what I mean? He was sort of… fractious? Moody, nearly? That wouldn’t be like him.’

‘That’s fine. Can you take us back a little, though? To the onset of symptoms? Take your time.’

‘Sure. Yes. Well, it all started to happen when he came home, that first day. He’d been out with his friend Neil, and when I saw him that evening he had a scrape across his knee. I didn’t know what had caused it or how he’d hurt himself, but…’

‘Which friend, for the record?’

‘Neil (surname redacted).’

‘Where does Neil live?’

‘His parents have a farm about two miles up the road. Greg would often walk there and back – it’s a quiet stretch. We thought…’

‘That’s fine. So, he came home with a leg injury, and then what?’

‘A leg injury? Look, he’s eight! Scraped knees are part and parcel…’

‘Mrs. Barker? Answer the question, please.’


‘Mrs. Barker? Do you need a recess?’

‘No, no, I’m… let’s just get this done.’

‘Fine. In your own time.’

‘Right. So, Greg came home. He was limping a bit, so I brought him in and washed the knee. It looked like a scrape, that’s all. Just a tiny scrape. It was red and inflamed, but the wound looked clean and so I thought it’d be fine. Like I said, he was a bit out of sorts, but I thought he was just sore and upset, you know, from his injury. Anyway, I bandaged it up and made him eat a plain supper, just toast or something. I don’t remember.’

‘Fine. Did you have any cause for concern at all at that point?’

‘No. None. Well… He took his toy octopus with him to bed, which was a bit strange, now that I think back over it. He hadn’t been too interested in that thing for a year or so before… before…’

‘Yes, thank you, Mrs. Barker. Now, if you can, take us through what happened the next day.’

‘I… God. I woke early and went to check on Greg. There’d been a reduction in the redness around his knee, and I remember… I remember how pleased I was by that, like it was a sign he was getting better… If I’d known then what it actually meant…’

(sounds of weeping)

‘Mrs. Barker, if you need a recess, just…’

Jesus! I just want this over with! Can you stop asking me if I need a break!’

‘Mrs. Barker. Please, remain calm.’

‘Calm? Sir, if you’d seen what I have, calm would be the last thing…’

‘Mrs. Barker, I have to ask you to refrain from shouting.’


‘I’m sorry. I forget, sometimes, that it’s been tough on us all.’

‘Yes. Yes, it has. Now. We were at Day 2?’

‘Day 2. Sure. Well, Greg woke up fine, and his knee looked better. He had most of his movement back, and little pain, and he seemed… he seemed happy. Himself.’

‘When did that change?’

‘At around lunchtime. I know, because…’

‘Mrs. Barker?’

‘My…  my husband had just sat down to his meal when we heard the explosion. The first one. And so he was there… he was with me when we ran outside to check if the children were all right…’


‘Mrs. Barker, if you’re having difficulty…’

‘…but the children were gone. There was just Greg, and he was… he wasn’t my son, not any more, not then. Now, I know it had already taken him over. But all I saw then was my baby, in the centre of a ball of fire, fire that was bright and red and taller than the house. I could see his little legs and arms, and the back of his head, but there was a flame, all around him. I could feel the heat of it on my skin. I was just about to run to him when he turned, and he looked at his dad and me, and he smiled. He smiled through the fire. And then he…’

‘Mrs. Barker, could you speak up, please? For the microphone?’

‘He threw a ball of flame at his father, and I heard my husband scream in agony. And, God forgive me, I ran. I ran and left him there. I ran…’

(sounds of weeping)

‘Okay. Let’s leave it at that for today, Mrs. Barker. Thank you for your help. Let the record show that interviewing on Day One of the Invasion Inquiry concluded at 7.37pm; we’ll pick this up in the morning.’

(Recording Ends)